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September 05, 2006

t a n g o s e n s o d i n a m i a ®


Natacha Iglesias, the creator of Tango Sensodinamia, has an interesting philsophy of learning that is inspired by the work of Moshe Feldenkrais.

To judge from her own description of her work, she has implemented a pedagogy (if you can call it that) that downplays processes or prescribed movement patterns. Instead she provides awareness-building exercises where the dancer-practitioners can experience their bodies and their movement in new ways, and discover the path to development from within themselves. I am putting a lot of my own inferences into this, so I should just let her speak for herself.


I would like to learn more about the teaching tactics of Natacha Iglesias. In my own teaching, whether it be Tango, Alexander Technique, or English, I know that I have a natural tendency towards prescribing ways to act or be better. And I usually use analysis to identify how something can be improved. It takes effort for me to find approaches to teaching (sic) where I create a situation for students to discover things for themselves. And then once I have done so, it takes additional effort not to worry about failing. Failing what? Well... failing to teach them much, failing to satisfy the need that brought them to a lesson in the first place, failing to empower them in a good way. One of the beautiful things about Feldenkrais (not that I know much about his work, really), is his confidence that indirect methods will result in improvement. I suppose he had experience on which to base his confidence. But even wanting to have proof of a positive result seems almost antithetical to the faith in the innate wholeness of the individual.

I think one thing I need to take in is that it is OK and/or good for students to exert themselves in specific methods, but it is bad to set a goal of "doing the method" correctly. The method should lead to an enhanced awareness and freedom of action, and that should lead to unprescribed activities (e.g., real life) where the improved awareness and freedom carry over.


To speak concretely (for once), you can teach dance students a step pattern and accompany their learning with lots of felicitous corrections and advice to help it succeed. If the step is interesting and newly challenging, and within their grasp, dance students seem (visibly and by their comments) to enjoy this approach, especially if they "feel like they are dancing" in the process.

By contrast, you can give students a couple of rules to improvise by and say "experiment with this and see where it takes you." Or, you can ask students to walk in slow motion on their own, and while they are walking call attention to things they could become aware of. I try such things sometimes as a way to enlarge the movement endeavour and to stimulate self exploration. But it is hard to evaluate their efficacy, so to speak. If my objective is to allow students to open their creativity and physical awareness, I won't necessarily see that result in the same class. It's not the same as being able to see that they can do a specific tango move efficiently.

Posted by joegrohens at September 5, 2006 11:26 PM


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